On Friday, the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) temporarily withdrew the authorisation of the Ferrero factory in the Walloon city of Arlon following news of a salmonella outbreak.
Earlier this week, there was a call to return bought Kinder Surprise chocolate to the stores, as dozens of people in Europe were infected with salmonella after eating Kinder Surprise chocolate from the Ferrero factory in Arlon.
"At the same time, all products from the Kinder range that were produced at Ferrero Arlon are being recalled today," FASFC said in a press release, specifying that it includes all products of the type 'Kinder Surprise', 'Kinder Surprise Maxi', 'Kinder Mini Eggs' & 'Schoko-bons', regardless of lot number or expiry date.
On Thursday, Ferrero communicated that the cause was found at a filter of two reservoirs with raw materials, but that the possibly contaminated chocolate was stopped from leaving the factory. How contaminated chocolate still left the factory is now being investigated.
- 20 salmonella cases linked to Kinder Surprise eggs in Belgium
- Children hospitalised due to infected Kinder chocolate eggs
Initially, the company did not inform Belgium's food safety agency, according to Hélène Bonte of the FASFC. "We were informed by our colleagues from the United Kingdom last week that a link had been found with the company in Arlon, not by Ferrero itself," she told VRT.
"If a company has a problem in the production process that could pose a potential risk to consumers, there is an obligation to report this," Bonte said. "But if Ferrero believes that it was solved internally, and that no products went out, then in principle they do not have to report the contamination. We are now investigating whether Ferrero has correctly assessed the risks."
Still, the FASFC decided to withdraw the company's authorisation on Friday afternoon, as it found that the company was not able to provide them with full information about the incident.
"The FASFC is closely monitoring all steps taken by Ferrero and will only allow the factory to reopen if Ferrero can offer the necessary guarantees that it complies with the rules and regulations for food safety," the agency stated in a press release.
In addition to the recall, the FASFC is also asking the distribution companies to remove all Kinder products from their shelves. Whoever still has such products in their house is asked to contact Ferrero.
In a reaction given to the Belga Press Agency, Ferrero acknowledged that it made a mistake, and addressed "internal shortcomings" that led to the information being shared too late.
The company said that it "deeply regrets" the matter and apologises to all customers and partners. "Customers who have purchased these products are asked not to consume them and to return them to the store. There they will be refunded the purchase price."
Consumers with questions can contact Ferrero's customer service via Consumer.Service.email@example.com or on the phone number 0800 21042, according to the FASFC.